Friday, April 15, 2016

(Trekking and camping) Joginder Nagar  Winch Camp  Barot  Badagram  RajGundha  Billing (Part 1)


Preparations for the Trekking
If you search the Google for the information about this trek there are few stories and photos available to tell you the details of the beauty of this trek. Deepak searched a book called “Trekking in Himachal Pradesh” written by Minakshi Chaudhry, and we found a map of the trek. It was helpful in trekking, but we found that the uhl river was shown wrongly in the east of Badagram village, which actually was in between Rajgundha and Badagram in Chhota Bhangal. Sai and Anand both from Andhra Pradesh did not have much of the experience of the mountains, but they were exhilarated to go on the trek.

Map given in "Trekking in Himachal Pradesh" by Minakshi Chaudhry.
One day earlier Sai and I, went to market to know the bus timings from Hamirpur to Joginder Nagar, and to buy mats for our night camping. We already had two tents and three sleeping bags, so we planned to carry two-three blankets for the fourth person. Other stuff like, first aid, warm clothes, food and money were taken care of.

Hamirpur to Joginder Nagar

We started at 9:30 AM from Hamirpur, and changed four buses to reach Joginder Nagar via Sujanpur, Palampur and Baijnath. We bought the milk packets, jam, bread packets etc. as the food items. There I met sh. Vikas Sood, the photo-videographer and a mutual friend of me and my elder brother. He already had visited the Winch camp, so advised us to take the trail via” Jim-Jima” to “18 Number” to meet the haulage track. The track starts from Shanan Power House, and rises in a very steep way to reach the winch camp at a distance of about five-six kilometres. 

Joginder Nagar to Winch Camp
We crossed a huge crowd of mela gathering at the mela ground nearby to the govt. degree college. This was a crowd for "Laghu Shivratri" fair held everywhere in this month. We kept asking whoever we met on the way and accordingly we crossed JimJima and PanchJan villages and reached 18 number hodge trolley at around 5:00 PM. 

There was an official of PSEB(punjab state electricity board), who further guided us. We followed the haulage track, which was more than 70 degrees steep at places. We did not reach Winch camp, instead we pitched our camps at plane grass fields, because it was getting dark and it seemed that we won't reach Winch camp before everything would get absorbed in the darkness. A bird's eye view of Harabaag, Joginder Nagar  and surrounding valley is available from here. 
Last stretch of the track for the evening before camp 1.

A very early morning view of Hara-Baag from 18 number hodge trolley.
Camping site 1, one stretch up from 18 number hodge trolley.
Sai and Anand searched for wood while Deepak and I finished the pitching of tents. Bonfire was lit to feel more safe and sit around it. We slept early, but my eyes opened at around 3:00 AM. It was dark but a fast wind was thumping two of the four walls of my tent. Till then I had a wonderful sleep, and I felt totally fresh. Along with that the fear of animals didn't let me sleep till morning. Once I opened the zip of the tent to check if it really was wind or some kind of animal. Thankfully, it was not any animal.

‘18 number hodge trolley’ to Winch Camp
Just Reached the Winch Camp
One can walk along the side trail or track, which is very steep at few stretches, only two other houses were met on the way. At the last house, we met a lady, who offered us water and told us that her husband works at the Winch Camp. Soon when we reached at Winch camp we met sh. Dina Ram, her husband, who offered us tea for free of cost. He looked in his fifties, and was working since last almost thirty years as the fitter under PSEB. 
Peaks visible from Winch camp
Winch Camp with Dina Ram ji.

It was a delight to meet such a person. Ghatasani, part of Hara-baag, Joginder Nagar, Chauntra, Ahju Dhar, Khajoor, Basahi-Dhar, Janitri Dhar, Bassi Dhaar, and many other small mountain ranges are visible from here.

On the northern side, ice capped peaks of Dhauladhar such as Hanuman Tibba was visible. The lug valley still was hidden behind the Dhauladhar ridge which we would cross in the next three to four kilometres of trek. After eating the remaining breads and jam with tea and milk, we followed the track and trail as guided by sh. Dina Ram.

Winch Camp to Barot
This was a very comfortable walk of almost three kilometres. Track runs gently on the steep mountain face of Dhauladhar giving a very fine view of the lower Joginder Nagar and places near to Chauntra. Rhododendron flowers make the mountain jungle so colourful that you feel to be on a heaven’s path. It seems as if nature has made a wondrous path in your welcome. 
The gentle track towards Barot from Winch Camp.

The track rails were damaged at places, due to the landslides, so it would not be possible for trolley to go towards Barot.  Track crosses the mountain ridge and runs on its other face that is visible from Barot side. The remaining three to four kilometres of the track runs on a very steep descent known as the Khooni Ghaati(blood Valley). As guided by sh. Dina Ram and a passing lady shepherd, we took a mountain trail that emerges at this ridge crossing on the left side leaving the track on right. You have to walk down along this Deodar surrounded trail, which takes you directly to the reservoir at Barot. There were two reservoirs, one old one and a new one. Trail diverges into two in between this three to four kilometres of stretch, you have to take right. We reached Barot and found a small restaurant where we had a wonderful meal at only fifty rupees of price for each. Trout fish was not available on Sunday, which you have to get by yourself from the trout hatchery, because restaurant owners do not keep them.
We inquired for a camping site, which is available on the right bank of the Uhl river, but later we decided to walk up to Kothi-Kohar or Badagram for night stay, because otherwise it would be a long trek up to Rajgundha for next day.

To be continued in part 2…